Monday, March 25, 2013
The Killing Fields and Angkor Wat
After we got settled in we headed out to get some food and check out the Tuol Sleng prison where Cambodian's were held during the Cambodian genocide because they were thought to have been against the regime that had taken over. If you've never heard of the Cambodian genocide, first Google it, then read 'First They Killed My Father' - a book written by a girl who survived the genocide. Anyway, the prison is actually a school that they turned into a prison and now it is a memorial and museum. They left most of the prison the way they found it after the genocide so you could walk into the teeny tiny prison cells the Cambodians were held in and see the rooms where the kept people shackled together. It was very sad, but we're glad that we were able to learn more about how this tragedy happened and who was behind it. As we were leaving, one of the (two or three remaining) survivors of the prison was selling signed copies of his book about his time there and Ethan got to hear him talk a little about it. We bought the book and took a photo with him. After the prison we walked to the "Russian Market," but it was closed so we headed back to our room.
The next day we hired a tuk tuk (open air taxi of sorts) to drive us to what is known as the Killing Fields - another memorial to the Cambodian genocide. This particular killing field, known as Cheong Ek, (there were hundreds all over the country) was used to execute the prisoners from Tuol Sleng. Today it is set up as a walking tour and they give you a set of headphones to listen to information about the site. You can also listen to some survivors talk about their experiences. First, you see where they dropped the prisoners off and then you walk by some of the mass graves that were used to bury the bodies. A couple of them have been preserved and are surrounded by fences and have roofs over them. Others were dug up so the bones could be analyzed to find out how they were killed. Then you walk around a "lake" and listen to some survivor stories and make your way back to more mass graves. The graves just look like big depressions in the earth and if you look closely you can see bone fragments and small pieces of cloth that surface from the graves. The last stop is the memorial stupa that houses thousands of human bones that were dug up from the graves. Cheong Ek was another very depressing, but worthy experience in Cambodia. (E- They truly did an incredible job at the site. With a lot of things in SE Asia being halfway thought through, this was a very impressive memorial to the genocide. It was a very intimate experience that provided a lot of first hand accounts of the horrific acts that occurred here. There were stories about the victims as well as from the soldiers' point of view. I can't believe humans have the capability to do this kind of thing...)
After we ate some food we headed to one of the places I have been wanting to see for a very long time - Angkor Wat. It is an ancient temple that is huge, was built a gazillion years ago and from what I could tell is awesome. So we got a ride out there in hopes of watching the sunset. It wasn't quite the sunset we were looking for but it was still really pretty. The temple was much bigger than I thought it would be, but looked much older than it does on TV. We walked around a little bit then headed back after the sun had gone down. We were saving the serious tour for the sunrise the next day. We ate dinner at our hotel and went to the night market where we got massages and I got my toe nails painted. That night I think I slept about 2 whole hours due to the lack of a/c in our room - they put us in a room with an air conditioner (without the remote of course), but that means no ventilation. I was not a happy camper.
Posted by Skye at 8:44 PM